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Thread: Antioxidant Supplements Raise Death Risk

  1. #1
    !!Deadlifting!! Y0yo's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Somewhere over there

    Antioxidant Supplements Raise Death Risk

    (WebMD) Use of the popular antioxidant supplements beta-carotene, vitamin E, or vitamin A slightly increases a person's risk of death, an overview of human studies shows.

    The study also shows no benefit and no harm for vitamin C supplements.
    Selenium supplements tended to very slightly reduce risk of death.

    Oxidative stress caused by highly reactive "free radical" compounds circulating in the blood is a factor in most diseases.

    Antioxidants sweep up these free radicals. It seems to be a no-brainer that
    taking antioxidant supplements would protect your health. But it may not be
    that simple.

    A new, detailed analysis of human studies of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and
    vitamin E shows that people who take these antioxidant supplements don't live any longer than those who don't take them. In fact, those who take the
    supplements have an increased risk of death.

    The finding, reported in The Journal of the American Medical
    Association, comes from Goran Bjelakovic, M.D., DrMedSci, of the University of Nis in Serbia; Christian Gluud, M.D., DrMedSci, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark; and colleagues.

    "Our findings have already changed the way I counsel my patients about
    antioxidant supplements," Bjelakovic tells WebMD in an email interview.
    "According to our findings, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E cannot
    be recommended. I am telling them that they should stop using these

    "There is no reason to take anything that hasn't been proven beneficial.
    And these antioxidant supplements do not seem beneficial at all," Gluud
    tells WebMD.

    Not everyone agrees. Nutritionist Andrew Shao, Ph.D., is vice president for
    scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement-industry trade group.

    "Consumers can feel confident in relying on their antioxidant supplements as they always have," Shao tells WebMD. "They can continue
    to take them knowing they will provide the same benefits and this article
    does not change that."

    Antioxidant Supplements and Death Risk

    Bjelakovic, Gluud, and colleagues analyzed data from 68 randomized clinical
    trials of antioxidant supplements that included 232,606 people. When they
    looked at all the trials together, they found that the supplements offered no benefit but did no harm.

    However, some of the trials were more exactly controlled than others. There
    were 21 trials that had a "high bias risk." These trials had one or more problems with randomizing study participants to the supplement or placebo groups, with blinding both the participants and the investigators to whether
    participants received supplements or placebos, and/or with following up on all participants until the end of the study.

    So the researchers looked only at the 47 "low-bias-risk" studies which included nearly 181,000 participants and which did not include people
    taking selenium. They found that:

    # Taking vitamin A supplements increased the risk of death by 16 percent

    # Taking beta-carotene supplements increased the risk of death by 7 percent

    # Taking vitamin E supplements increased the risk of death by 4 percent

    # Taking vitamin C supplements did not have any effect on risk of death

    Shao says it just isn't fair to study antioxidants in this way.

    "What these authors have done is combine studies that are incredibly
    dissimilar in all sorts of ways," he says. "These studies looked at
    different nutrients at different doses at different durations with different
    lengths of follow-up and in different populations, ranging from folks who
    were incredibly healthy to people with cancer and other diseases."

    Moreover, Shao says, the researchers looked only at studies in which people
    died. That left out 405 clinical trials, which he says skews the results in
    favor of death risk. And he points out that the researchers original 68 studies did not show any harm from supplements.

    "These questions cause one to step back and wonder if the findings are
    relevant to the healthy population that uses these supplements to maintain
    healtand avoid chronic disease," Shao says. "That is a point they
    don't make: that antioxidants are not used to treat cancer or heart disease.
    They are used for disease prevention."

    Edgar R. Miller III, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns
    Hopkins University, in 2004 analyzed clinical trials of vitamin E. He found
    that high doses of vitamin E did more harm than good. Miller has high praise
    for the Bjelakovic/Gluud study.

    "This is a great study. It is the highest form of scientific evidence," Miller tells WebMD. "I don't think that [Shao's] criticism
    is legitimate. I argue this is the best technique to analyze all this

    Gluud and Bjelakovic strongly disagree that they "cherry picked"
    only studies that fit some preconceived conclusion. They point out that all of their methods are "transparent" and open to public view.

    "Anyone is welcome to criticize our research," Gluud says. "But
    my question is, what is your evidence? I think the parties that want to sell or use these antioxidant supplements in the dosages used in these trials, they want [to see only] positive evidence that it works beneficially."

    Advice to Consumers

    Kathleen Zelman, MPH, R.D., L.D., is director of nutrition for WebMD. She
    reviewed the Bjelakovic/Gluud study for this article.

    "This is a very comprehensive, to-be-respected analysis. This isn't just
    another study coming out," Zelman says. "The bottom line is that
    antioxidant supplements are not a magic bullet for disease prevention. We hoped maybe they were, but they are not."

    If you are interested in protecting your health, Zelman says, pills aren't
    the answer.

    "There is no single food or nutrient that is going to be the answer. The
    secret really is lifestyle," she says. "And the most important things
    about lifestyle are being at a healthy weight, being physically active, and
    eating a healthy diet."

    Shao says he's not persuaded to stop taking antioxidant supplements.

    "I take antioxidant supplements every day," he says. "I know
    more about these nutrients than most people do, including the authors of this study, who are not nutritionists. This does not change a thing for me. You can take that to the bank."

    Zelman has this advice: If you plan to continue taking antioxidant supplements, don't exceed the recommended daily doses.

    "For nutritional insurance, my suggestion would be a once-daily
    multivitamin," she says. "But for those people who take multiple
    supplements, and are going to continue to do so, heed the warning and be sure to respect the safe upper dosage limits."

    "If you are in doubt, take the time and go to your doctor and talk with
    her or him," Gluud advises.
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  2. #2
    Banned Roddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    they just want us to stop taking these products so that in a few years they can sell us "their" pharmaceutical products for the diseases and conditions which we will have aquired from not taking the anti-oxidants ... seriously... likely

  3. #3
    Banned bjohnso's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Cincinnati Ohio
    I stopped reading after the first few lines. It increases death? Death from what? He doesn't even list a cause, at least not in the part I read. The death rate is always 100%. How long have these supplements even been around that he can conclusively say that beta carotine and vitamin E will kill you?

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